Affirmative Action In The Workforce

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According to the United States Department of Labor, affirmative action is the “banning of discrimination and requiring of contractors and subcontractors to take action to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a Vietnam era or special disabled veteran” (Dept of Labor 2002). It is essentially a policy of actively hiring and promoting qualified individuals in historically disadvantaged groups such as minorities, women, and disabled veterans. These “equal opportunity” programs were designed to focus on education and employment, and the policies were implemented to take active measures, without the presence of discrimination, to ensure that groups that have historically suffered discrimination have equal opportunities as whites. Affirmative action policies seek to realign the balance of power and opportunity, and have proven to be effective when implemented in the workforce.
Although the roots of affirmative action in the United States date back to the nineteenth century, more recent affirmative action programs were initiated under the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. To help rectify the historical inequalities suffered by women and minorities, John F. Kennedy passed Executive Order 10925 and Executive Order 11246 which required government contractors to take “affirmative action” in the hiring of more minorities (African Americans and women) and ending workplace discrimination, according to historian Stephen Cahn. A decade later, the Nixon presidency piggybacked JFK’s footsteps and mandated all government contractors to create a printed affirmative action plan within the workplace. Many companies now emplo...

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...creasingly diverse labor force. The only downside of affirmative action is specifically focusing on the minority employees. They may be viewed as solely being hired as a result of affirmative action, rather than as equally as accomplished, qualified, and productive. This is demeaning to minorities because it sends them the message that they are not capable enough to be considered on their own merits. However, without the application of equal opportunity programs, minorities and women are more probable to have less access to opportunities, and will affect their goal to become successful in general because they think it will not pay off. With the use of affirmative action, it is imperative to find the appropriate method to level the playing field in order reduce the occurrence of minorities not being viewed as equally qualified when being employed at any company.
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